From addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 to maintaining our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure in the region, take a look at some of the recent highlights from researchers at Rutgers Center for Advanced infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) as we head into the new year and close out 2021.

Illustration Covid-19.

Addressing COVID-19 Challenges

It’s been two years since the first cases of COVID-19 were detected. Since then, the disease has spread around the globe, causing more than 800,000 deaths in the United States and five million deaths worldwide and transforming our lives in unprecedented ways. Rutgers Today spoke with some of the university’s top experts in health care, environmental science and engineering, education, labor and business — including CAIT Director Dr. Ali Maher — to discuss what we have learned since the onset of the pandemic and what we might expect in the future.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of collaboration to overcome these new and complex transportation challenges,” he said. Read more of what he and other experts at Rutgers University had to say about recovery from COVID-19 here.

CAIT-affiliated researcher Dr. Grace Guo was also in the news recently, discussing the supply chain challenges that many NJ small businesses are currently facing during the holiday season due to impacts from COVID-19.

“The pandemic has caused disruptions to our global supply chain on many levels, impacting transportation, reducing production and causing shortages in raw materials, products and workers,” she said.

Read more from about how global supply chain challenges are impacting businesses in the region.

Preparing for Future Floods and Infrastructure Resilience

Following Tropical Storm Ida striking the Northeast region, CAIT-affiliated researcher Dr. George Guo spoke with about how flooding could be worsening in the state due to more intense storms caused by climate change, continued development in the area, aging stormwater infrastructure and the high cost of flood mitigation projects.

He also explained how it is not too late to implement flood prevention methods. Increasing flood storage capacity, utilizing stormwater green infrastructure such as rain barrels, green roofs, porous parking lots, and more, could help to slow stormwater runoff and mitigate flooding.

Dr. Guo was also interviewed by The Montgomery News, where he discussed how climate change is not the only factor contributing to severe flooding events in Montgomery Township, NJ. He explained that population growth and rapid urbanization have created a rainwater runoff problem in the area.

“When we convert land that would be covered in dirt, grass, and trees into land covered by concrete foundations and asphalt driveways, we take away a large amount of space that once would have absorbed and held rainwater,” he said. “Today developers are required to account for this, but any development created before 1984 did not have to follow such strict rules and regulations.”

Building our Roads, Bridges, and Tunnels

CAIT researcher and Director of the Rutgers Asphalt Pavement Laboratory, Dr. Thomas Bennert, spoke with News 12 NJ about what goes into building roads in New Jersey, and how different asphalt recipes are needed to meet the unique needs of the various roads, bridges, runways, and more throughout the region.

He explained how every road requires a different asphalt recipe, depending on factors ranging from the weather and traffic levels to what’s underneath, and how researchers at the laboratory spend their days testing different asphalt mixes in order to design the ideal material for various locations and climates throughout the state.